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Scripture And World: Between The Schools Of R. Akiva And R. Ishmael

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Chapter Summary

This chapter argues for a persistent difference in the way that the schools of Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Ishmael represent the relationship between Scripture, on the one hand, and, on the other, action in the world. For the school of R. Akiva, they stand in opposition, hermeneutically and normatively, while for the school of R. Ishmael, they form an interlocking whole. It suggests that the differences between the two schools can be understood as manifestations of this more fundamental distinction. This distinction may also underlie a debate about the validity of oaths to uphold the law. Figures associated with the school of R. Ishmael affirm the validity of such oaths, and in this respect articulate an ideal of "willing the law" that is continuous with the rhetoric of Second Temple normativity and consistent with the school's reluctance to distinguish the dictates of Scripture from the conduct of life.

Keywords: God's law; Rabbi Akiva; Rabbi Ishmael; Scripture

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